The last play of the Lakeside Little Theatre season is Sarah Ruhl’s 2004 “The Clean House.”
Known for her feminist bent, Ruhl focuses on three main female characters and, at first, their relationship to cleaning, in this case, houses. The play begins with the women telling the audience about their deepest, most soul-wrenching take on what a clean house means to them. Unfortunately, after the opening monologues, the actors continue to address the audience throughout the play. Rather than the characters connecting, they seem to bump into one another merely because they are all on the same stage.
Amaranta Santos, a local jewel who acts and sings at lakeside, plays Matilde, the Brazilian maid who is both saddened and bored by her house cleaning duties. She is in search of the perfect joke and dedicates her life to that aim. Santos brings her reliable comic timing to the role.
As Virginia, Patteye Simpson plays a woman who loves to clean and is willing to take over Matilde’s duties for her. An LLT regular, Simpson has enjoyed better vehicles to display her undoubted abilities. There is little authenticity to the character of Virginia and if there is anything real to her, it’s when she’s chattering about why a mundane husband is the best choice a girl can make, not to mention the satisfaction Virginia gains through dusting, scrubbing and folding laundry.
Lane, played by Candice Luciano, another LLT mainstay, is a doctor dedicated to a career that leaves no time for or interest in cleaning house – she has Matilde for that lowly task. Luciano manages to circulate a bit of blood through the veins of the aloof doctor, but she too has appeared in more suitable roles at LLT.
What at first appears to be a play about how women feel when they clean up after themselves and others – perhaps heading toward some inner glimpse into the female psyche – chugs along into something else altogether. Lane suffers over a betrayal, Virginia finds solace in tidying up and Matilde tells the story of her comedian parents who laughed themselves to death.